Category Archives: community

Inspiring Women- Betsy Davidson

About the Inspiring Women series

This feature series is dedicated to all women who are making a difference in their communities. They work to improve other people’s lives, as well as their own.  They give  Profusely of themselves. In putting together this feature series, I was inspired by several moments in my life that in particular stand out.

Orchids in full bloom
Enigmatic orchids

No.1  A dedication of a Relax, mind, body & soul book by Barbara Heller from my son Jake: “I dedicate this to my inspiring and motivational mother.” Kuba

No. 2  While on a story prior to Mother’s Day, I dropped in at Ace Bernard Hardware to talk about the prizes with owner Charlie Bernard. We talked also about the Lowell Area Chamber and its director Liz Baker.

“You know what I like about Liz, she keeps re-inventing herself,” Bernard said.

No. 3 Again on a story prior to the International Women’s Day on March 8, I talked to Sow Hope president Mary Dailey Brown.

“If you want to make a difference in this world, seriously consider helping impoverished women. Helping women is the key to unlocking poverty.”

No. 4  At a parents teacher conference at Cherry Creek Elementary in Lowell in the mid 1990s, I spoke with my son’s teacher, Karen Latva:

“Mrs. Pala, we do not give up,” she said.

This series is geared toward the International Women’s Day on March 8. Nominate a woman who has inspired you. Contact Emma at emmapalova@yahoo.com with subject Inspiring Women.

There is a parallel series “Inspiring Communities” where you can nominate both men and women, year round.

Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce names Betsy Davidson  Person of the Year 2018

IW betsy
Addorio owner Betsy Davidson

“Find something that you are passionate about and jump in with both feet.”
Betsy Davidson

Lowell, MI- Betsy Davidson, owner of Addorio Technologies, is the recipient of the 2018 Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year Award.
She will accept the prestigious award at the winter gathering of the chamber membership on Feb. 15.
The award came as a total surprise to Davidson, who found out about the honor at the ambassador breakfast club. “It’s very humbling,” she said. “My customers have been congratulating me. I am very happy.”
Davidson has been the owner of Addorio Technologies since 2000. She started the company when her former employer Creative Handling of Hudsonville went out of business.
Her first job was at Deer Run Golf Course, and her first car was a blue Renault.

How does she gets things done

Davidson described herself as a dedicated and persistent individual. In preparation for a big project as in building a website or a server/network upgrade, Davidson first meets with the customer to make sure expectations are met and details are communicated.
The major challenge in the technology business, according to Davidson, is keeping up with constant changes in IT. That means attending trainings, workshops, webinars and on the job training.
For inspiration, Davidson looks up to fellow business owners. Her role model is chamber executive director Liz Baker.
“She has so much energy,” she said. “I can’t keep up with her.”
There was another reason why Davidson wanted her own business, since she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Positive thinking

“Positive thinking has always kept me going,” she said, “my family, my husband Matt and my friends.”
She has never wanted to quit her job.
“I get more excited as I grow my business,” she said. “I keep moving forward.”
A lot of Davidson’s business is in the greater Lowell area.
In response to a question about fear in both professional and personal lives, Davidson said the only fear she has in business is disappointing customers.
However, in personal life Davidson said she’s afraid she could miss out on spending time with the family and friends.

Accomplishments

Her biggest professional accomplishment is receiving the 2018 Person of the Year award.
Also, last year, Davidson was presented with an award for raising $50,000 for the MS Society.
“We were among the top 10 for a “do it yourself fundraiser” for the state of Michigan.
Davidson and her family have been doing this fundraiser for the last 16 years.
On the theme of success, Davidson attributed her achievements to her determination.
“I am kind of stubborn, and I keep going,” she laughed. “I don’t stop.”
Among her goals is to continue to do 5k runs, and a 10k run tentatively in 2018. She does the 5/3 Fifth Third Run, Ionia Parks run and Alpha Women’s Center run.
Her interests include travel. She plans to visit her grandma Annette Addorio, 103, in Maine. She named her business, Addorio Technologies after her grandmother.

Volunteerism

Davidson is an active volunteer with the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, Rotary and the Lowell Area Trails network. Between the three organizations, Davidson spends approximately five to 10 hours volunteering a week on top of her 50 to 60 hours a week work schedule.
She offered the following tips and advice to other women:
“Number one is balance,” she said. “It’s hard to squeeze time out of the day, but I have a passion for what I am doing.”Also, Davidson advises not to be afraid to ask other people for help.
“Find out who else is passionate about the same thing, and it will strengthen the project,” she said.
In face of negativity, Davidson always focuses on positivity.
“There is a lot of negativity, try to focus on the positive,” she said.
The Person of the Year Award annually honors people who make contributions in the greater Lowell community above their regular work.
“It is a huge honor to receive the award,” Davidson said. “It’s all-encompassing. I wouldn’t have received this award, if it weren’t for the help of the people I work with.”
Davidson hopes to continue to do all this and more into the future.

About Betsy

Name: Betsy Davidson

Residence: Lowell

Occupation: Business owner of Addorio Technologies

Education: Central Michigan University

Family: husband Matt

Hobbies & Interests: walking, running, travel and spending time with family

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Plotting new year’s courses

I have just glanced at my Jan. 19 Taurus Horoscope to see if I am on track. Without the Blink of an eye this is what I found out.

I have enrolled in Spanish classes together with Ludek. I will be teaching ESL English as a Second Language and writing classes in the Grand Rapids area. My new column about Czech heritage is coming up in the Western Fraternal Life Herald, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

My next book signing of Shifting Sands Short Stories will take place at the LowellArts downtown gallery on Main Street on Feb. 3 from 1 to 4 pm. I will be offering tips on how to start and finish your book in 2018. Sign up on Facebook @emmapalova to win a free book.

For more info on the Western Fraternal Life Association and the Fraternal Herald monthly magazine go to:

http://www.flains.org

This is my horoscope for today.

You may be intrigued by the prospects of enrolling in a course of study today, but you’re determined to specifically learn something that can contribute to your material success. Although your practical …

Source: Taurus Horoscope for January 19, 2018

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Traditional Christmas

Traditions alive in Fallasburg

By Emma Palova

Fallasubrg, MI – Old-fashion Christmas in the Fallasburg historical village is reminiscent of a bygone era with only horse-drawn carriages.

First you have to cross the Covered Bridge at the speed of no more than 5 miles into the village with the landmark Fallasburg Schoolhouse.

The schoolhouse is decked out for Christmas. The food buffet features everything from several types of meatballs to casseroles, appetizers and desserts.

The music is by Hawks & Owls band. The featured drinks are wine and spiced grog. The community known as the “villagers” annually flocks to the schoolhouse to celebrate Christmas in style.

A large bonfire caps off the event. Come and join us.

 

via Christmas in Fallasburg

Earth Day 2017

Celebrate Earth Day

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – As the nature awakens, we celebrate Earth Day today. The first widely recognized Earth Day was held in 1970 when an environmental Teach-In group planned an event for April 22.

But every day is an Earth Day celebration to recognize the greatest resource of all, and that is our planet Earth.

To celebrate the Earth Week, I started my annual walk to the Franciscan Life Process Center (FLPC) on Monday. The 1.8 mile hike on a gravel road has been a staple of my mental and physical sanity since 1995 when we moved out into this northeast corner of Kent County in West Michigan.

I marveled at the untouched nature coming to life; plants vigorously emerging from the wet dirt from yesterday’s rains, robins hopping under the pine trees among the new ground cover.

Crisp morning air and dew covered the new grass and stems.

The area consists of preserved farmland thanks to late philanthropist Peter Wege, apple orchards, woods and streams. Wild flowers are now popping out in the woods, and morel mushrooms are around the corner, or should I say around the stumps.

I love the farm markets with the local produce starting soon with local asparagus.

Different trail systems like the Fred Meijer River Valley trails and Lowell Area trials meet here at the confluence of Grand River and Flat River. We’ve been blessed with an abundance of natural resources from the Bradford Dickinson White Nature Preserve in Lowell Township, Wege Wittenbach AgriScience center, Sessions Lake and Fallasburg Park. Hundreds of inland lakes dot the picturesque region.

The Midwest entices with its variety of seasons, landscapes, Great Lakes and diverse communities.

For more info on the trails go to:

www.traillink.com

Land Conservancy of West Michigan

www.naturenearby.org

Wittenbach/Wege Center

http://www.lowellschools.com

Franciscan Life Process Center

http://www.lifeprocesscenter.org

 

Copyright © 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Installing water filters in Haiti

Inspiring communities

Note: Tthe Inspiring Communities series features men and women who inspire us in our communities to help other people achieve well-being in an increasingly complex world. Nominate a person who has inspired you.

Arctic Heating & Cooling owner Evert Bek

Local businessman helps install water filters on Haiti, where water is the
Elixir of life

By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- At the best, a running water system on the forgotten island of La Gonave off Haiti consists of a cistern tipped upside down with a hose that leads through the window inside a hut.

However, most often you will see a container full of dirty rain water known as the municipal well. The villagers haul water in buckets on donkeys or on their heads.
Usually when tested, the water is full of coliform bacteria, which causes cholera, according to Lowell resident and business owner Evert Bek.
Bek was part of a team that installed water filters in Haiti at the beginning of March. The project was spearheaded by the Lowell Rotary Club.
“There is no running water on the island,” said Evert. “There is no electricity, no bathrooms, people live in huts. They use rainwater collected in cisterns.”
The team installed 80 water filters which are cones filled with sand and stones from the local sources. Each dwelling paid 35 cents per water filter.
It takes 10 gallons of water to get the filters started before using as safe water supply, according to Bek.

Bek was astonished at the living conditions on Haiti, located only 709 miles from Miami. Most recently, Haiti was hit by hurricane Matthew on Oct. 4, 2016, and the country still suffers in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in 2010.
A typical dwelling is made of cement, it has a dirt floor, one room. And it accommodates anywhere from two to 10 people.
During the week-long stay, Evert said, he only saw meals cooking outside twice.
“One day we had beans and rice, the next day we had rice and beans,” he said. “The laundry is done outside by hand.”
Usually, the huts are scattered all around with a church as the center point. The team stayed in the village of Pikmi.
“We had to have a translator,” said Bek.
The island, which has no industry, was conquered by the French in the 1600s. The official language is Creole, which is a French African dialect.Their guide and translator was a self-taught man, who called himself Day Day. People use small motorcycles as transportation, but they mainly walk. It is not uncommon to see three to four people riding a motorcycle.Old pick-up trucks are left wherever, when they stop working.
The land is just clay and rock, because the top soil eroded as the forests were harvested unlike in the neighboring Dominican Republic.
“The island sits on a bare rock,” said Evert.
Approximately 100,000 people live on 287 square miles.
Weekly, there is a village market, where animals are traded. Charcoal on the island is used as a cooking fuel. However, there are no tools to fix anything.
In contrast to the overall living conditions, the population wears discarded t-shirts bearing losing sports teams’ logos, peddled by different organizations from the USA.
Kids and adults walk around with non-working phones.
“It’s a status symbol,” said Evert. “There is a lot of corruption in the country, you got to be ready to get your valet out to get anything done.”
Churches have done a lot of work on the island in schools and education. Kids go to schools in uniforms, and there are orphanages in good condition.
According to Evert, the big unknown remains the economy on the island even once the water problem is solved.
“You have water and then what?” he said.
There are a lot of unfinished houses on the island due to lack of materials and finances, and corruption.
A typical banker sits outside with a duffle bag of money on the corner of gravel streets. He holds dollars in one hand and Haitian Gourdes in the other hand.
If you go into a “store,” you will not get any change back.
“I learned the hard way,” laughed Bek.
The team stayed in a guest house with water and kitchen, leased through an organization based in Saranac.
“I like to help out,” he said. “Be grateful for what you have.”

Featured photo is of a Wednesday market on the Haitian island of La Gonave.

If you want to help contact your local organizations. This water filter installing project was through the Lowell Rotary club at http://www.lowellrotary.og

This post was also written as a response to the Daily Post prompt @elixir
Elixir

For more info on Haiti go to: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haiti

Copyright (c) 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

END

Lowell artist inspires generations

IW Inspiring Women – Jan Y. Johnson

Longtime artist inspires generations embedded in Lowell area

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Note: The IW winter series, which leads up to the International Women’s Day on March 8, features women from all walks of life who continue to inspire others in our communities.

Inspiring women
Inspiring women

Their positions in the society are not measured by money or the accolades they receive, but by contributions to progress and well-being of all.

Nominate a woman who has inspired you for the series.

Lowell, MI – Artist Janet Y. Johnson, 86, is an icon. Together with artists late David Davis and current Kathleen Mooney, they have created an artistic legacy for generations embedded in the greater Lowell area.

Lowell artist Janet Johnson has created a legacy.
Lowell artist Janet Johnson has created a legacy.

Johnson has been a staple at the Flat River Gallery & Framing in downtown Lowell with countless exhibits of watercolor and acrylic paintings.

The gallery will celebrate its fourth anniversary with the “Let’s celebrate” event with champagne and chocolates on Feb. 11 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Johnson recalls all the great years of exhibiting and painting in the Lowell area.

“They’re all realistic paintings,” said Johnson about her work.

Some of them go as far back as to the heydays of another icon, the Lowell Showboat on the Flat River in the 1950s.

“I used to sing on it, and then I painted it,” Johnson said during a recent interview at her home.

As we looked at the dark blue watercolor painting of the Showboat with strings of lights floating on the Flat River hanging in the detached studio, one could imagine the lively atmosphere on the deck.

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Iconic Lowell Showboat with windows into the past by Jan Y. Johnson

You could almost hear the voices singing:

“Here comes the Showboat.”

Circus elephants by artist Jan Johnson of Lowell.
Circus elephants by artist Jan Johnson of Lowell.

Johnson sold two paintings of the Showboat and bought one back when the owner stated, that the painting should stay in the Lowell area.

Johnson has lived in the Lowell area for 57 years.

Growing up on a farm in Alto, Johnson acquired a natural affinity to all animals.

Johnson studied animal drawing at the Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota, FL and graduated in 1951.

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Miller Circus at Lowell Fairgrounds, 2016

Prior to that, she studied at the Kendall College of Art & Design in Grand Rapids, and worked as a publication designer for Amway in the 70s.

“It was a wonderful place to work,” she said.

Among her favorites are vivid paintings of exotic animals in circus settings.

Work in progress by Jan Johnson.
“A friend’s boat,” work in progress by Jan Johnson.

Johnson’s most recent watercolor painting is of the Miller Circus which performed in Lowell last August after the fair. She will hang the painting of the circus at the gallery for the new February show.

According to Johnson, the circus ringmaster at the Miller Circus was connected to  the Ringlings.

Johnson spent most of 2016 illustrating the children’s book  “Gertie Goose.”

“It’s a story about bullying,” said Johnson.

Pat Markle, former teacher of Hastings Schools, wrote the book. This was the third project for the author illustrator duo during the last decade.

The book is available at the Lowell Arts and at the Flat River galleries for $15.

“Gertie Goose” was published by J-Ad Graphics of Hastings in 2016.

“They do a good job,” said Johnson.

For more info on publishing go to www.http://www.j-adgraphics.com/

It is also available on Jan’s Facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/janet.johnson.96742277

Johnson’s art will be at the ArtPrize 2017 from Sept. 20 through Oct. 8.

ArtPrize: https://www.artprize.org/jan-y-johnson

For more info on the Flat River Gallery go to: http://www.flatrivergalleryandframing.com

info@flatrivergalleryandframing.com

Copyright (c) 2017 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this story or its photos may be reproduced without the written consent of author Emma Palova. @EmmaPalova

Be kind, love like a kid

Be kind in an unkind world

“Change is in the air, as old patterns fall away and new energies are emerging. Consciously release what needs to be released, and welcome with a full embrace the newness you’ve prayed for and so richly deserve.”

Marianne Williamson

 

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- I’ve never seen a more varied reaction to the happenings in Washington D.C. than this week following the presidential inauguration of Mr. Donald Trump on Jan. 20.

Any psychology student would have had a great doctoral thesis if he or she had analyzed and tabulated the responses to president Trump’s inauguration, Women’s March on Jan. 21, the first executive orders, retreat in Philadelphia, the Right to Life March and the mainstream media commentaries. Not to speak of late night shows, Saturday Night Live, and the fashion comparisons of the First Lady to historical figures and her linguistic disabilities.

ew-be-kind-jan-27

Only the death of the incarnate of the modern woman Mary Tyler Moore, and maybe watching “Charlie Bartlett” kept the weights of humanity from tipping over completely.

“So tell me what you think about all of the above and I’ll tell you who you are,” independent analysts and charlatans tested the Internet waters.

Facebook, twitter and other social media were bubbling like a witch’s potion with all the ingredients starting with hate to complete apathy, withdrawal and secure rationalization.

In between reigned ridicule, sarcasm, vulgarity, hopelessness, fear and despair.

Of course, there were observers patiently waiting to render their opinions after all others have gone first, ala “risqué” style.

I’ve tasted my share of firsts with the post “Join 10 Actions in 100 Days”, a story about a local inspiring woman Sharon Ellison, a participant in the Women’s March.

The overwhelming reaction was that the women were vulgar and inappropriate like Madonna in order to get attention.

I didn’t catch what an editor would have caught, that is a vulgar phrase on a sign accompanying the post. It cost me some.

However, one of the best observations in the last 8 days was the use of the “alternate fact” term as the means to justifying anything.

I find that term especially useful in teaching my American born protégé Josephine Marie Palova, 3, the Czech language.

“My dear Josephine, a cow is actually a horse, or vice versa, depending on what you need it to be.”

Not, that this is anything new in politics.

“What you meant to ask me, was….?” A city manager restructured my question to his prepared answer.

“What I really wanted to say was that…”

“But you said something else,” I said.

“Oh, I didn’t mean that.”

The politician’s word play is like a bad game of chess. No matter how good you are, the opposing party will claim they had won…….although in a different game.

Well, at least the Wall Street was happy in this game as the stocks soared past the 20,000 mark, if that is any indication of anything, according to ill-willed analysts.

I found some reprieve in the pacifist stance on the matter of the affairs in the union, in the world and in the universe, thanks to a post from a friend in Iowa, Sheryl Groen.

“Change is in the air, as old patterns fall away and new energies are emerging. Consciously release what needs to be released, and welcome with a full embrace the newness you’ve prayed for and so richly deserve.”

                                                                                      Marianne Williamson

 

There’s means to an end, my friend.

Be kind, everyone else is fighting a hard battle. Love like a kid, because love wins.

Featured photo thanks to Michelle Emaus of Lowell.

 

 

Copyright © 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Local women march in Washington D. C.

Women from Michigan march in Washington for Women’s Rights

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – Women from all over the USA and the UK gathered in different places to march for Women’s Rights on Saturday, just one day after the inauguration of president, Mr. Donald Trump.

Lowell resident Sharon Ellison, former mayor pro-tem for the city of Lowell, is among the many women voicing their rights in the historical march following the inauguration.

Three weeks prior to the event, the charter buses from Grand Rapids heading for the Women’s March were sold out.

Local marches are currently being held in Grand Rapids and Lansing.

Ellison is representing many local women carrying a sign with their signatures.

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John Grote, editor at Discovery Communications, commented on Facebook:

“I am perplexed at the media coverage or should I say lack of as of this morning of the Women’s March,” he wrote. “I get the National Prayer service is important, but history is being made.”

Follow us as with Sharon Ellison as we go through the day, and into history.

Pictured in the feature photo are from left to right: Alice Harwood, Kathy Sainz, Maria Lara, Nancy Misner, Sharon Ellison and Shelli Otten, principal of Cherry Creek Elementary in Lowell.

One of the organizers from Fountain Street Church was Rev. Jason Hubbard.

For more information go to: http://www.womensmarch.com

Follow @EmmaPalova #emmapalova #ewwriting #womenmarch

Copyright (c) 2017 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Lowell Showboat icon closes to public

Lowell Showboat closes to public

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – Looking from her chamber office window on a chilly January afternoon, executive director Liz Baker has a clear picture of the Lowell Showboat still decked out in its Christmas glory.

There’s the mailbox for letters to the Santa and the big sugar canes, garlands and Christmas figurines. The archway is decorated with pink garland.

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“The showboat is iconic,” Baker said. “It’s been a part of so many people’s lives.”

The fifth replica of a Mississippi steamboat, has served as the Lowell Area Chamber’s logo for the last 20 years, until the chamber adopted a new one.

In the official press release, city manager Mike Burns stated the need to close the Showboat to the public as of Jan. 4, 2017 for safety reasons.

“The Robert E. Lee’s long history and tradition in the community has made this a very difficult decision,” he said.

However, the committee “Rebuild the Lowell Showboat” has already been preparing to replace the Showboat with a new structure.

“We’ve been preparing for this,” Baker said. “There is going to be a new structure that will somewhat resemble the old Showboat.”

The committee expects to submit formal application to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) by the end of the month.

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The new lower maintenance structure will sit on a platform dock to prevent rotting in water.

The current Showboat, although closed to the public, is not going anywhere.

“It will stand there until we’re ready to put the new structure out there,” Baker said. “The chamber will continue to maintain it.”

The Showboat has been an integral part of the Lowell community and its citizens. Over the last 85 years, it has served as the major venue for entertainment, and as a backdrop for the Sizzlin’ Summer concert series, the Riverwalk Festival and the Lowell Christmas festivities.

Santa posed with children for the last time on the Showboat during Christmas festivities in december of 2016.

“Things deteriorate,” said Baker, “our hope is to create a different structure with some of the old elements like the smoke stacks, and better use of space. It will serve the same purpose.”

According to Baker, the Showboat, owned by the city, has outlived similar venues.

“It is our shared belief that the current structure built in 1979 has served us well, it has outlived its expected lifespan,” said Burns.

The “Rebuild the Lowell Showboat” committee will be hosting an informational meeting on Jan. 19th at 7 p.m. at the city hall seeking input from the residents.

It is the hope of the committee, to have a new structiure in place in 2018.

“The Showboat is is iconic, but it is also our future,” said Baker.

Copyright © 2017 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Second Sunday of Advent

We are people of hope!

Time to hope and to enjoy the gifts we have

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Dear Father Mark,

Your homily about the  St. Patrick’s parish couple who found out last Monday they were chosen to be parents for a baby girl, after years of trying to adopt a child, brought tears to my eyes.
Like you, I cried. I will always cry whenever this story of adoption enters my mind.
I cried tears of joy for the couple whom I have known for a long time.

I cried tears of belief that there is hope no matter what, as long as we believe. Even the tiniest grain of belief matters.
I cried tears of gratitude for my own children and for all parents who seek adoption.
Thank you for the beautiful story on this second Sunday of Advent, which means hope.
May the story of the  parish couple inspire others never to lose hope.

Hope is love in disguise.

Emma

About the featured photo: The wreath in the middle with four candles, of two which are lit, signify the second Sunday of Advent. It expresses our hope.

 

frmarkpeacock

Second Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 11:1-10

Romans 15:4-9

Matthew 3:1-12 

A couple here at the parish, have been trying to adopt a child for four to five years. So many times they would get right to the end and not get chosen. This was very disheartening as you can image. Recently the couple told me they were not going to renew their contract because it was just too difficult. The wife began visiting a very holy woman of the parish who kept telling her, “I am going to pray for a miracle that you get a baby.” Well, that very holy woman died on Thanksgiving Day and we celebrated her funeral mass here on Monday. After the funeral and after the luncheon I went to the rectory when all of a sudden I heard screaming coming from outside the front door of the rectory. This woman, who has been trying…

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